Sunday, August 31, 2014

Drama Review - King of Dramas

Dramas are not averse to having self-referential meta material in them. We hear "like in dramas" said by drama characters often and some works might even parody others in direct or indirect ways. Like 2008 series 'On Air', 'The King of Dramas' explores the world of the drama industry. Sadly for the latter, a lot of the issues it criticizes rear their ugly head both within its plot and through the drama itself by the end.

Anthony Kim (Kim Myeong-min) is the go-to producer for a successful drama. The works he handles get top ratings and satisfy all the industry criteria, while leaving little room for fresh concepts. When a production faces a problem, Anthony clashes with Lee Go-eun (Jeong Ryeo-won), an aspiring writer who believes stories are more important than business. After a casualty during filming, Anthony loses his job and fame. When he later opens his own production company and finds himself deep in debt, he and Go-eun reunite and decide to try creating a successful drama. However, their ideals are still on opposing sides.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King of Dramas".

Actor Spotlight - Kim Myung Min

Personal taste accounts for a large part of a person's preferences when it comes to art and entertainment. Our positive or negative emotions can make us blind to or more forgiving of flaws or then make us see flaws that are not there. When it comes to actors, everyone has favorites and those favorites are rarely the same. However, there are some performers who are good enough to both have and deserve the acknowledgment, if not admiration, of most viewers who experience their work. Kim Myeong-min seems to belong in that type of performers.

Kim has been in the drama and movie industries since his debut in the 6th SBS actor contest in 1996. While he has credits in works since then, he only landed his first leading role in 2001 movie 'Sorum'. However, his breakthrough came with 2004 series 'Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin', which was offered to him just as he was about to give up on his acting efforts. Ever since then, Kim's career has been going nowhere but up, landing him many leading roles in popular dramas and films and making him a powerful presence in both industries.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Kim Myeong-min.

Actor Spotlight - Choi Woo Sik

Dramaland is always looking for stars. Whether new ones it tries to elevate to that status or already existing ones with the power to bring audiences, popularity trumps all when it comes to the Korean drama industry. Choi Woo-sik does not have the qualities the industry likes for its stars, but he has made his career so far by being someone who always manages to entertain, even if his roles are secondary. Often on the geeky or comic relief side, but not limited to it, his characters shape a likable image and capture the attention of those watching.

Choi has not been around the acting scene very long, having made his debut in 2011 drama 'The Duo' as the younger version of the second main character. Since then, he has mostly done cameo and secondary roles in drama and also had a role in 'Secretly and Greatly', making it his only movie role to date. His most notable appearances are in 'The Rooftop Prince' and also OCN series 'Special Affairs Team TEN', which is perhaps the most central role he has had so far aside from 'Drama Festival - Save Wang Jo-hyeon'. If we are to categorize him, Choi is a rookie, but progressing fast.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Choi Woo-sik.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Idol Actors - Park Yoo Chun and Seo In Guk

Park Yoo-chun

Famous idols who go into acting often share a very similar issue. The position of the roles they get is very central compared to what their skills at the time can actually handle. Park Yoo-chun showed promise straight away, by managing to carry the role of a lead in his very first work a lot better than what a lot of idols or other rookies manage.

Park's career in the Korean drama scene started with 'Sungkyunkwan Scandal' in 2010. Since then, he has been having a very steady career in this industry and has also made his entrance into movies with 2014 film 'Sea Fog'. Park's strength in terms of choices comes from the fact that he does not go for romance alone, neither do his efforts only go as far as will be beneficial to his career as a musician.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Idol Actors] Park Yoo-chun and Seo In-guk.

Co-written with Raine of 'Raine's Dichotomy'.

Drama Review - Nine

There are a lot of issues with the Korean drama industry and the fact that new ideas can rarely escape the confines of the drama formula is one of the big ones. Romance is almost inescapable and overly melodramatic tropes and devices turning cliche are another such element. Even good writing cannot always escape those and often does not even try. 'Nine: Time Travelling Nine Times' is a series which had great potential and has many virtues, but it also has a few problems, its biggest issue being that it fails to incorporate a solid romance into its plot and goes cheap with its melodrama.

When Park Seon-woo's (Lee Jin-wook) brother is discovered dead in the Himalayas, an incense stick he was holding is found in his belongings. After Seon-woo discovers he can travel back in time upon burning the stick, he tracks the case containing the rest of them and makes a plan to use this ability in order to prevent a tragedy that ruined his family. With barely any grasp on how the sticks work and no clue about their origins, Seon-woo finds himself meddling with a force he cannot control and which brings about many changes, not all of them for the better.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Nine: Time Travelling Nine Times".

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Drama Review - Haeundae Lovers

Knowing one's level and limitations is an important virtue for creators of any kind. While ambition is good, it is also crucial to not take oneself more seriously than is appropriate. One common issue in Korean dramas is that works often tend to present themselves as more than the light entertainment they usually are. Once in a while, however, come shows that know where they stand, be they melodramatic or comedic. 'Haeundae Lovers' is a romantic comedy drama and it is also fluff, something which it is aware and unapologetic of, allowing it to be fun.

Lee Tae-seong (Kim Kang-woo) is a prosecutor who is devoted to and passionate about his job. He has a rich and powerful father, a beautiful fiancée, but cares more about catching criminals than belonging in his circles. For his latest case, he goes undercover and attempts to infiltrate the family of Go So-ra (Jo Yeo-jeong), the daughter and heir of a famous has-been gang in Busan. So-ra and her family are trying to get by and hope to one day reclaim the hotel that was stolen from her father, leaving him mentally challenged during the gang conflict. After losing his memory due to an accident, Tae-seong is taken in by the family and begins bonding with them and falling for So-ra in the process.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Haeundae Lovers".

Idol Actors - Jeong Yong Hwa and Kim Hyun Joong

Jeong Yong-hwa

CN Blue’s lead singer, Jeong Yong-hwa, is a talented man with a expansive stage presence and an abundance of energy. More often than not, however, this presence and energy doesn’t find its way into Jeong’s dramas. That makes his characters shaky. His more recent work has more finesse and relatability, but he started out quite rocky.

Jeong’s first role was as the second lead in the 2009 drama “You’re Beautiful”. He had just debuted with his band CN Blue and was a rookie in every sense of the word. It is difficult for rookies to take on lead roles with no experience to fuel their acting. This was true for Jeong. Although he is winning on a concert stage and on reality television, it is quite another thing for him to take on the persona of another and be convincing with it. His Sin-woo in “You’re Beautiful” went through the motions, but did not feel alive. Despite this, “You’re Beautiful” was wildly successful and gave him a foot in the door for his next big television project.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Idol Actors] Jeong Yong-hwa and Kim Hyun-joong.

Co-written with Raine of 'Raine's Dichotomy'.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kang Dong Won Wants a Drama, Hell Just Froze Over

So while I have been busy and unaware of Korean happenings these past few days, this happened. A piece of news, translated above by Soompi, about Kang Dong Won having tried to get back to Korean drama and gotten rejected for the undisclosed part he took a shot at.

Firstly, I am amused by the fact that many fans think the rejection was shocking. Casting directors are not fangirls, folks. We might find these people awesome, but everyone has their place. Kang Dong Won has little drama experience and is probably higher maintenance than actors who are used to being treated poorly by this system.

Secondly, since no really awesome dramas have come out lately, I am personally glad he was rejected. I hope he can maybe land a cable one or at least almost entirely pre-produced one. There is no way he can avoid the things he went through during his short drama career on any of the Big Three and any live-filmed production and I hope he is not expecting to. If he does choose such a drama, he will have to be prepared. I personally think he might even take another 10-year drama break after that, having been traumatized all over again.

One thing is for sure, he is going to get a lot of offers from now on. While creators will be skeptical and probably afraid of him, he is a big enough name to bring in people's interest and productions will still want him in their works just for that. I really hope he will choose wisely, because the issues he seemed to have a problem with have not really gone anywhere and we all know the artistic level and integrity of dramas is less stable than a crystal glass in a roller-coaster.

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Drama Review - Triangle

There are a lot of reasons why some dramas just go wrong. They range from lacking material or creators to schedule issues to extensions and really remind us how difficult the current system is to create in. To create something good and have it remain good. It is also often impossible for outsiders to know exactly what went wrong aside from seeing the bad result of it. Sadly, 'Triangle - Drama' has been plagued with many issues, lacking material being what ultimately makes it all fall apart.

'Triangle - Drama' follows three brothers who find themselves involved in the same circles after having lived apart and unaware of one another for nearly three decades. Jang Dong-soo (Lee Beom-soo), the oldest, has become a detective who suffers from anger management issues. Jang Dong-cheol (Kim Jae-joong), now called Heo Yeong-dal, is a lowlife, a gambler and a criminal who aims higher in life. Jang Dong-woo (Si Wan), now called Yoon Yang-ha, has been raised as the heir to the local casino business, but also has severe issues from his cruel upbringing.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Triangle - Drama".

Idol Actors - Kim Jae Joong and Yoon Kye Sang

Kim Jae-joong

Breakthrough roles are very difficult to predict for a rookie actor. Those who are not natural talents that dazzle from their very first work go through a process of development and often need more help in finding roles they can handle at their level, but also evolve through. For Kim Jae-joong, who has so far been tolerable, but also uninspiring, Heo Yeong-dal of 'Triangle - Drama' was that role.

Kim has been around in the acting industry for almost a decade, but only really made his presence more known with 2009 film 'Postman to Heaven' and also made a more solid drama debut in Japan, with 'Hard to Say I Love You'. Still not having made it big in movies, with 'Jackal is Coming' being the only one out so far, Kim has had more work in dramas, starring as the second male lead in 'Protect the Boss', as a tortured concubine's son in 'Dr. JIN', before he got his first leading drama role in his latest and aforementioned drama, 'Triangle - Drama'.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Idol Actors] Kim Jae-joong and Yoon Kye-sang.

Co-written with Raine of 'Raine's Dichotomy'.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Drama Preview - Reset

OCN dramas are nothing unpredictable by now. If there is one channel which is consistent and trustworthy, it is this one. Most of its lineup is just works using the same formula, only changing their gimmick each time. While it does get tedious, its series are also a guaranteed entertainment, even if often predictable in its plots and resolutions. 'Reset' looks like more of the same, but it also has one element which could bring about change, be they positive or negative.


Cha Woo-jin (Cheo Jeong-myeong) is a prosecutor for the violent crimes division. During a case, he meets a young woman (Kim So-hyeon-I) who looks exactly like his first love, who died fifteen years ago. As he struggles with this new case he finds is related to his past, he needs to piece together his memories for help.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Reset".

Drama Review - Sly and Single Again / Cunning Single Lady

The romantic comedy genre has not been doing well in Korean drama lately. While there have been a few successes, the overall frequency and brightness of romantic comedy series seem to be decreasing. What was once a disapproving mother in law in terms of a foil has now become serial killers, deadly diseases, unexpected resurrections and other manner of melodrama to ruin promising and light beginnings. 'Sly and Single Again' might not be a great drama, but it is one that stays true to its genre.

Na Ae-ra (Lee Min-jeong) and Cha Jeong-woo (Joo Sang-wook) had a promising start as a couple. Good financial standing, love, plans for the future. After Jeong-woo decides to quit and have a go at starting a business, things get very bad very fast. Poverty and uncertainty ruin the marriage. Three years later, Ae-ra is struggling to find work, when she learns that Jeong-woo's business flourished and he is now rich and famous. She decides to apply for his company and get her revenge for her life being ruined. On the other hand, Jeong-woo also feels his life was ruined by her.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Sly and Single Again".

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